James Roberts looks at London PA recruitment and the kind of PAs required by today’s growing number of small to medium-sized businesses

According to business statistics published by the House of Commons last year there are 5.7 million businesses in the UK, and that number is growing.

That’s a lot of PAs.

A whopping 99% of those companies are small to medium-sized enterprises. And with the number rising all the time, the nature of PA recruitment for these small businesses is changing. That’s particularly true for London PA recruitment, as 18.9% of the UK total of businesses is in the UK capital.

What we’ve experienced in London PA recruitment is that many smaller companies want to hire more flexible PA staff. In a start-up company, or one with 9 or fewer employees, the idea that everyone chips in with everything is a daily reality. This means a PA is as likely to be making a client tea and washing the cups as taking important calls, making notes, helping staff book travel and quite often going along too, and sometimes being involved in decision-making.

Take a PR director who we hired staff for recently. She has multiple campaigns to juggle and needed a team who could adapt on the go, learning fast so that each client felt equally valued. This means there always needs to be all hands on deck. If a floor needs to be mopped before guests arrive at a launch party, then it needs done – sometimes by a PA, sometimes by an Account Manager. Once that’s done, it’s a quick change into the Jimmy Choos and on to welcoming guests. A PA in this situation needs to be on show, and to a client is as much a representation of the PR company as any of the Account Managers.

PA recruitment across home and office

Another new idea is that particularly in small companies, PAs work across a director’s home and business. With businesses being started up in home-offices, shared office spaces, and even garden offices, more work time is spent managing home issues than in more conventional offices. It’s partly because we’re all blurring work and homelife more, and partly because the space is shared.

As long as you agree terms upfront, this work can be partly done by a flexible PA. This could mean anything from preparing meals to organising bill payments or walking the dog. It can be incredibly useful to have a PA do some of this legwork across your homelife as well as your worklife, leaving you more time to either really relax when you’ve finished in the office, or spend a valuable extra hour or two working on that big presentation. That’s fine, as long as the conditions are laid out and agreed at the beginning. We’ve found a lot of modern PAs enjoy the variety. Being a PA is becoming more a lifestyle manager position than before, and that brings extra responsibility, which many people thrive on.

It’s not even a new idea really. Anyone who’s ever worked in a family business knows that flexibility is key in a small business and that working across work and home becomes one and the same thing – it’s all jobs that need to be done.

The biggest quality of any good PA is to intuitively see what needs doing and just do it. It’s not so much about KPI’s to measure performance as about being willing and flexible. If the job makes life easier for your employer and colleagues then just do it. From our experience when someone adopts this can-do attitude, they climb the career ladder quite quickly.

In one local company I know, the hard-working PA became a Managing Director within a few years of arriving. She was the one who knew how all corners of the business worked, and she had the nous to climb the ladder fast. In London, this sort of PA recruitment is booming. In new small companies, no two jobs are the same. It’s not unusual for the PA to quickly become the most important cog in the business.

How to find those flexible London PAs

If you’re managing one of these small businesses how do you find that flexible PA? London PA recruitment services are the best bet. With 14fiftyseven, not only do you know that the candidates have been vetted, but you also know the fit between the candidate and your company will have been thought about before that person’s CV even lands on your lap. Most people don’t have time to sift through a great pile of CVs. Life in London can often be a notch busier than life elsewhere. Using a specialist London PA recruitment service can give you peace of mind, and lower stress levels when hiring staff. What is crucial is working out what you need from the PA and we can help you do that.

James Roberts, Director 14fiftyseven

Whatever you want from a PA, make sure you get the best. Call us at 14fiftyseven to talk through your London PA recruitment needs and budget, and we can find you PAs, lifestyle managers, house managers, nannies, and more. Call +44 (0) 208 616 1457 or email hello@14fiftyseven.com or fill in our online enquiry form to discuss everything from your needs to budget.

Interested in PA jobs? Find the contact form at the bottom of our Vacancies page.

14fiftyseven. Because we’ve been there.

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